Jody Goldstein sitting with her two white dogs

April 26, 2021

Jody Goldstein’s desire to help create an inclusive culture for students with disabilities began as a counselor at a camp for developmentally disabled children. Goldstein’s experience taught her not to judge an individual’s quality of life.

“I bring that lesson to my work daily, knowing despite their challenges, all of my students have a pathway towards meeting their academic and career goals,” said Goldstein, the director of the UNCW Disability Resource Center.

Goldstein joined UNCW in 2020 after working in the University of Massachusetts System for 19 years. She spent the past 11 years leading the Office of Disability Services at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where she established a peer mentoring program to support students with disabilities, an early move-in transitions program for freshmen with different abilities, and disability awareness programming on how students with disabilities are viewed and included on campus. After completing her master’s degree in social work, Goldstein accepted a position at Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation in Dallas, where she worked with individuals who had experienced traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries or an orthopedic/neurological event.

“Although I enjoyed working with all ages, I really enjoyed working with younger adults as they often were able to learn compensatory techniques to cope with the residual limitations of the injuries they had experienced,” she said. “I worked in the field for several years. My career took a turn towards teaching when my children were young, but I always wanted to return to working with young adults with challenges.”

One thing that excites Goldstein about assisting students with disabilities is witnessing their resiliency and passion to seek a degree despite barriers they may face along their educational journey. Goldstein is also passionate about how technology offers independence and removes barriers for not only students identified with disabilities, but for all students.

“When video content in a course is captioned, it not only benefits students who are deaf and hard of hearing, but also English as a second language learners and many other students who benefit from taking in information both orally and visually,” she explained. “This all falls under the broad category of inclusive design in instruction, which includes everything from curriculum taught in the classroom to events that students hold on campus. The more we implement universal design and inclusive design, we will reach a broader audience and become a much more inclusive campus.”

What drives Goldstein is creating an environment where students with disabilities can excel. “I am a huge advocate of seeing disability as diversity and acknowledging that all diversity brings gifts to our community,” she said. “I hope the DRC’s impact on students is that we can remove barriers and let them pursue their passions.”

--Venita Jenkins